A Kurt Cobain-Inspired Opera Just Opened in London

Caroline Polachek contributed to the opera as well

Kurt Cobain
Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, Pukkelpop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium, 25 August 1991.
Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

Jerry Springer, Chelsea Manning and Britney Spears aren’t people who have a lot in common, but they all share one quality — they’ve each been the subject of an opera. And now, you can add Kurt Cobain to that list. London’s Royal Opera House is currently home to a production of Last Days, a work from composer Oliver Leith which adapts Gus Van Sant’s film of the same name — which itself was inspired by the final days of Cobain’s life.

Based on Andrew Clements’s review of the opera in The Guardian, it sounds intriguing. Clements hails Agathe Rousselle’s “wonderfully controlled performance” as the opera’s central character, and points to “moments of touching beauty” in the score.

There’s also another notable musician involved in the production — Caroline Polachek. Polachek does not appear on stage herself, but sang a pre-recorded Leith composition during a scene where the opera’s central character, according to Clements, “plays an unmistakably Nirvana-like riff on his guitar in the opera’s only explicit Cobain reference.”

Pitchfork has more details on Polachek’s contribution to the opera, though there are no details as of yet as to whether this will have a formal release. A 2021 profile of Polachek in The New Yorker hailed her vocal range, and it’s certainly on display here.

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